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COMING UP:Share Opener Variant 4



Russian President Vladimir Putin believes he has enjoyed some serious military and diplomatic success this year, particularly in Syria, but he has also faced some serious diplomatic turbulence. I'm Andrew Osborne in Moscow, and I'm Reuters Chief Russia correspondent. From a Russian point of view, the biggest victory this year has been in Syria.
The Kremlin has declared victory over Islamic State there and has announced a partial withdrawal of its forces from Syria. That in turn has allowed Russia to regain influence in the Middle East and it is once again become a Middle East power broker and enjoys a degree of influence that it hasn't enjoyed since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The downside for Russia though allegations that it meddled in last year’s US presidential election and helped Donald Trump win the White House. Those allegations have prompted America to impose new sanctions on Russia. Putin wanted better relations with Trump. That hasn't happened. It doesn't look like it will happen anytime soon.
Those same allegations have also caused problems for Mr. Putin and for Russia in Europe. There were a number of elections in Europe this year in Germany and in France. And of course there was an independence referendum, an official referendum, in Catalonia in Spain. In all of those cases, politicians have accused Russia of again trying to meddle in the domestic political affairs of other countries.
Again, Russia, the Kremlin denies flatly that it done anything of the sort. But those allegations are continuing and the have damaged Russia's standing, Russia's influence in other parts of the world frankly. Inside Europe, Eastern Europe and the Baltic states. Russia is still seen as a potential military threat.
That was something that was only really exacerbated those fears when Russia held a large military exercise this year called Zapados
d that really stoked fears that once again Russia could potentially be a military threat to those countries.